I feel your pain, why dont you take further action, I would.
I am looking for a little advice on an issue that truly burns me up. We recently received a keg back from our distributor which had been thieved by a local regional competitor, painted, used, and claimed as their own by a sticker next to the spear valve. I give credit to the distributor for returning it to us (we do have our name embossed in the chime) even though it had been painted with the colors of said competitor. One would think that fellow micros would understand the plight of the little guy, and keep it at a friendly competition. There could be no mistake that it was our keg and not theirs. They had to remove our sticker, applied to indicate style, gvmt warning, and oddly enough, property of... Then they ignored our name in the chime and hand painted the keg like the rest of their fleet! What really burns me up is it is not as if it was an honest mistake. We get other brewery's kegs mistakenly returned to us on a regular basis. But we don't paint them and claim them as our own! Maybe I am naive, but I wouldn't expect a fellow micro to do such outright unscrupulous behavior. Each keg is a significant investment, shouldn't all of us know what each keg means to the microbrewer? Thieving from each other is downright despicable! What would you do if placed in a similar situation? Does any one have any experience with this in the past?
Last edited by wheelhouse; 03-13-2006 at 10:53 AM.
I feel your pain, why dont you take further action, I would.
This is more common than you think. Can you go through an Industry Assoc.?
Share this information with the TTB and your in state liquor control board. A Brewery in California got nebbed for this several years ago......or so I read. This is theft of cooperage, and changing the label from the rightful owner to yours is a violation of label approval laws.
you might start with a phone call to the brewer in question...this is not the type of decision a brewer usually makes....it's usually an hourly guy on the keg line. You might be suprised by their response....like helping you find a couple hundred kegs you've lost!
It's not in their interest to steal your cooperage, or to have the TTB crawling all over their keg fleet.
I agree with Larry. Before doing anything else, I'd have a talk with the folks from the other brewery...
Sorry guys. On this one I gotta take a different road.
I have 2 Breweries in my area that insist on using identical keg ID methods for the same types of kegs as us. Just to preface this, we have been in business many more years than they, and they know who we are and how we ID our kegs.
I had a couple of "civil" discussions with them regarding changing their identification methods. I was told to pound mash in no uncertain terms. Further, one of the Breweries has already taken our cooperage because of "confusion" (created on their part). We got them back from their distributer. Why would you knowlingly ID your kegs the same as another Brewery's unless you were intending to create some "confusion" to increase your float?
It is very hard to find the type of kegs we use. Wheelhouse isn't describing a simple act of, "Gee.....I'm sorry.". These folks blatantly kyped his cooperage and re-ID'd it without so much as a phone call (we didn't get one either, and we're the oldest operating micro outside Seattle to my knowledge). There are ways to look up whether a Brewery is still operating or not.
Sorry guys, we all have opinions, and mine is that this is theft.
Theft is a very strong word...and usually involves lawyers. If you can prove they have stolen your kegs call the a. general or the police...but be careful, they'll look at you too.
Thanks for all the response. While I have not yet spoken to the said brewery involved, I have spoken with other local breweries to see if this is an isolated incident. It seems as if this is not, which is why I used such strong language. I think that my course of action will be a mixture of advice received, not only on probrewer, but also from local colleagues and non-brewer friends. I will have to speak directly with the brewery, but as an old chinese saying goes, "fish always stinks from the head." I agree with Diamnod Knot, in that this was no mistake and I will get no where with the brewer. But, in fairness, I would rather go straight to the source first before taking further action. Thanks again, and I welcome more comments. This is not merely a cooperage issue in my mind, but rather a question of ethics and the microbrewing community. I understand that we are all competitors for market share to some degree, whether we sell in the same region or not. But by the same token, we are our greatest allies and assets for the market share as well.
Maybe if the names of these breweries was not kept discreet, other brewers would help you with harassing the rustlers. None of us should tolerate this.
Originally Posted by Moonlight
What he said.
Cheers & I'm out!
David R. Pierce
NABC & Bank Street Brewhouse
New Albany, IN 47151
We've folks like those mentioned in our area as well. Everyone seems reluctant to "out" 'em. Or those who break other MLCC regulations as well. I understand. It's a hard road being the whistle blower, to be sure. I've heard of brewers in our area that have actually photographed pallets upon pallets of their kegs at another's brewery, but upon returning with the authorities, wow, no kegs. No prosecution possible. But with the re-branded keg in hand, your case seems clear. Theft was the intent. But I'll bet the brewer claims they bought the keg fair and square from someone, most likely a wholesaler, and so the waters muddy.
I lost quite a few kegs last year, and I'm not really happy about it. But do I illegally re-brand others' kegs to make up for it? No. In fact, I rescue other breweries kegs that I stumble across in the depts of my local wholesaler while looking for my own. I call the brewery, and arrange for them to go home.
Am I a saint? No. But I try to be an honest man.
Kegs are expensive. Call the cops.
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Great thread. I've lost 30+ kegs to local distributors over the past year...
Here's my dilemna. I recently visited a steel scrap yard and found 70+ kegs of the same type/style sitting stacked/buried. They were from a European Brewery. I bought them from the scrap yard and re-plated them with my brewery name. Is this bad?
To be sure, contact the brewery and ask if they will pay you to send them back. If not, they are abandoned. Often European breweries have distributor issues and somebody gets pissed and won't pick up or pay for the kegs to be shipped back.
I think the rule should be: contact the brewery and ask if they will pick them up from you or pay to have them returned. What would you want someone to do who inadvertently was sent some of your kegs?
Should you rebrand 'em?...Kinda like you are what you eat.
While I don't own a brewery yet, wouldn't it be possible to try and get the delivery drivers from a distributer to look after your cooperage through some sort of incentive plan? Say perhaps for X amount of kegs returned to you they get X dollars of gift cards towards The Olive Garden (or insert a local restaurant chain here) for cooperage returned. If the drivers in a local area are unioinized like the Teamsters then it might be possible to work thru their local to set it up. Just a thought, I'm currently working these type of things into my business plan as cooperage loss is a big issue....